Focus Ireland Annual Report Shows Charity Supported a Record Number of over 13,500 people in 2016
Charity says a shift in direction is required away from “managing homelessness” towards ending the crisis as “No emergency accommodation will ever replace a place to call home.”
Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy launched Focus Ireland’s Annual Report for 2016 today as he also officially opened the charity’s new 28 unit housing development at Harold’s Cross in Dublin.
The development at Greenmount Close provides 28 new homes for people who are elderly or have disabled needs – and were previously homeless or at risk. The land for the housing was donated by the Sisters of Charity and the project was funded by the Department of Housing.
The Chairperson of Focus Ireland, Gerry Danaher said the new homes have been provided under the charity’s strategy target to provide 600 more homes by 2020 to help tackle the growing homeless crisis.
Mr. Danaher said: “I am proud to say we got off to a good start by delivering 135 new homes in 2016 compared to 35 the previous year. By the end of 2016 Focus Ireland owned or managed a total of 820 housing units for people who were homeless or at risk.” At the event Focus Ireland acknowledged the previous Minister Simon Coveney’s commitment to tackling the issues and also welcomed Minister Murphy to his new role. The charity said that is looks forward to working with the Minister and his dept towards easing – and ending – the housing and homelessness crisis.
However, Mr. Danaher stressed that to achieve this requires persistence, energy and a shift of direction. He outlined: “We are committed to working with Minister Murphy to tackle and prevent homelessness. We firmly believe that homelessness is wrong. Focus Ireland maintains that there needs to be a firm shift away from managing the issue of homelessness towards ending the crisis.”
Focus Ireland highlighted that we are now only 8 days away from the Rebuilding Ireland deadline to ensure that hotels are only used in limited circumstances for emergency accommodation for families. Mr. Danaher commented: “While we recognise the need for decent short-term emergency accommodation for families. However, let us be clear. No form of emergency accommodation provides a home or an end to homelessness for any family or individuals. At present there is no timeframe in place so these families know there is a clear end in sight for the trauma of homelessness they are currently going through each day.”
Focus Ireland said it welcomes the Minister’s announcement his Department is holding a review of Rebuilding Ireland to be concluded in 3 months at this will allow more specific policies linked to clear deadlines to be put in place.
Focus Ireland Founder & Life President Sr. Stan said any review must include a commitment to develop a specific sub-strategy to address family homelessness to be put in place which includes a cast-iron timeframe that no family will be allowed to remain as homeless for longer than 6 months.
Sr. Stan said: “There are also a number of actions the Minister– and the government – could take to quickly make a major inroad towards easing this very human crisis. Access to housing could be improved by introducing more incentives for people to rent out empty houses and to stop developers hoarding building land by having penalties for those who do so. We also need to introduce binding legislation to fully protect tenants against financial institutions and vulture funds foreclosing on buy-to let properties. We know from our frontline services that this is now a major cause of homelessness. “
Sr. Stan added: “The government voted down legislation last year to stop evictions of tenants in buy-to-let properties that are being sold (Fianna Fáil abstained). We believe if the legislation had been passed as many of 20 of the families who became homeless in Dublin every month would still have a home.”
Meanwhile, Focus Ireland said it works continues to work partnership with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and supported over 320 families out of homelessness in 2016. However, the crisis still continued to deepen as an average of 80 families have become homeless every month so far this year, compared with 60 a month last year.
View the Focus Ireland 2016 Annual Report
The most recent homeless figures show a record total of 7680 homeless with 2708 of those children. All figures regarding homelessness (Present & previous) can always be located here https://focusireland.ie/resource-hub/latest-figures-homelessness-ireland/